Our first frost was late this year so we were harvesting tomatoes well into October, picking them when they just started to turn to pink and letting them ripen to red in the house (out of the sun). By this time I have already done what I call my “big jar” canning, meaning quarts of tomatoes and quarts and pints of tomato sauce and other less seasoned purees that will be the basis for soup, stew, risotto etc. all winter. Of course there were salsas and small jars of my favorite tomato shallot sauce that is nearly as dense as tomato paste. Now, for the final act, the last plum-sized cherry tomatoes are being roasted slowly in the oven and stored in the freezer, and the remaining paste tomatoes are being turned into two tasty sauces: a sweet tomato ketchup and a fiery hot pepper and tomato sauce.
I didn’t get around to posting the hot sauce for the October series of the Tigress Can Jam that focused on capsicums but it would have been a good candidate since it’s based on New Mexico chile peppers combined with tomatoes, onion and garlic and reduced to a thick paste. The recipe came from the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving, where it’s titled “Harissa Sauce.” I re-named it since it’s hardly harissa, given the addition of the tomatoes and spices.
For my tomato shallot sauce, and for these two, I lightly salt the peeled, de-seeded and chopped tomatoes and let them drain in a colander for a couple of hours. This has the advantage of removing extra liquid from the tomatoes and allows them to reduce rather quickly to a thick sauce. Of course, I omit any salt from the ultimate recipe. The resulting drained liquid is added to the tomato juice strained from de-seeding and is a delightful drink (which, with the addition of a little lemon juice, can also be water-bath-canned, or frozen as is).
The original tomato ketchup recipe can be found on Tigress’s website, here. I tinkered with it a bit, especially in the preparation but also in the proportions. No matter… it was good. I might consider decreasing the sugar in the future. I certainly cut the salt by at least half.
Tomato Hot Sauce adapted from the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving
1 ½ lbs plum tomatoes (to yield 2 c chopped)
1 ¼ – 2 oz dried New Mexico chiles
1 c chopped onions
¼ c plus 1 tbsp brown sugar
½ c cider vinegar
¼ c chopped seeded red bell pepper
2 tsp ground cumin (preferably freshly ground along with the other spices)
¾ tsp ground coriander
2 tbsp minced garlic
1 ½ tsp salt
Bring a pot of water to a boil and put a second pot of ice water in the sink. Plunge the tomatoes, a few at a time, into the boiling water, remove to the ice water. Core and peel them, halve them across the equator, remove the seeds and watery flesh to a sieve, chop the pieces, and place them in a sieve over a bowl. When all of the tomatoes have been prepared, lightly salt them and let them drain for about two hours.
Remove the stems and seeds from the dried hot peppers (being careful to avoid touching them with your flesh, which could disseminate the burning oils) and soak them submerged in hot (boiled) water for about 20 minutes. Puree the mixture in a food processor and set aside.
Place all ingredients in a large, wide saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat, stirring occasionally to avoid burning on the bottom. Reduce heat to simmer the mixture and cook for about 20-25 minutes until thick.
Meanwhile, prepare the jars and canning lids for water bath canning. Ladle the hot sauce into the jars, seal them and process in a water bath canner for 10 minutes (assuming you’re using 4 oz or 8 oz jars). Turn off the heat, remove the lid and let the jars settle for 5 minutes before removing to cool undisturbed.
Makes 5-6 four-oz jars.